June 09, 2006 | Denali National Park
I drove up to Denali from Anchorage for a couple of days in the land of the midnight sun. I really had no idea what to expect – I’d seen photographs, but nothing prepares you for the landscape up there. This park is fairly unique compared to others in the lower 48 states just by its sheer size and limited accessibility. The park is huge – larger than a few states I believe, but there is just one road in and one road out. The park service allows passenger cars to drive the first 15 miles of the 80 mile road, but after that it is only accessible by bus. Now you can do the truly tourist thing and go on the bus ride and look through the glass window for the entire trip…or you can hop on the NPS buses that allow you to get off whenever you’d like a take a hike. Here I’m so used to trails that you’re asked to stay on at all times, but there are very few trails in Denali. Instead you are asked to walk abreast (so as to not harm the fragile Taiga) and wander the land.
Anyway, enough about the nuances of the park. This shot was taken from the overlook at Polychrome Pass. The mountains in the distance are the Polychrome Mountains, part of the Alaska Range which includes Mount McKinley just a few miles west from here. The mountains get their name from the wide variety of colors in the hillside. Here you can see some rich yellows and red in the soil.
I had never seen an image from Polychrome Pass, so I had no idea what to expect. My jaw dropped as the bus turned the bend in the road and I could finally see this great colorful valley.
This amazing sight, accompanied by others over the couple of days I was able to spend there got me thinking. I need to incorporate my love of photography with my love of amazing natural places like this. I have since been taking steps towards making this possible and hope to continue to share these experiences and images with you.